One of the country’s leading estate agents claims some solicitors are charging exorbitant fees on transactions as they near the latest stamp duty holiday deadline.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “Certain solicitors are charging exorbitant fees to take on work, whereas others are working evenings and weekends to make sure they get over the line in time.”
His comments come in response to the latest housing market data from HMRC, which shows transactions soared in April by a remarkable 197.8 per cent year on year - however, that’s compared with the housing market closure of April 2020.
This new data from HMRC shows that non-seasonally adjusted estimates for UK residential transactions during the month hit 111,260 - the highest April figure since 2007 when transactions were 126,450.
Seasonally adjusted, the figure was 117,860, a 179.5 per cent rise against April 2020 but 35.7 per cent lower than March this year.
“Although these figures reflect many sales agreed several months ago, they show a reduction in activity as many buyers did not expect to still take advantage of the stamp duty holiday” says Leaf.
“However, activity has picked up strongly since the deadline was extended, allowing many to continue where they left off, as well as encourage new entrants to the market.
“Transactions are always a better measure of housing market strength than prices which tend to fluctuate. On the ground, supply is still a problem even though listings have improved as rollout of the second jab in particular is encouraging sellers to make their properties available.”
Another leading agent - Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson Stops - also feels there has been a pick up since the period covered by the HMRC data.
He says: “On the ground, we are not seeing activity slow down at all and our agents are as busy as ever. The number of new applicants that registered with our branches in April was on par with the number that signed up when the market reopened last June, and we now have 22 buyers chasing every instruction across our network of branches.
“Sales across our branches in London’s new 90-minute commuter belt were the busiest in April – with Chichester, Ipswich and Northampton leading the way.”